Reviewed by Roel Scheijde
I have always had a love/hate relation with the 1960s. I understand their importance in the breaking down and reinvention of social conventions but, on the other hand, the naivety and self importance of hippies freaks me out.
Adele is a young woman who bluffs her way into college and the idealistic micro-universe of a group of people who believe that they can and should change the world purely because they are young and different from their square parents. In this world where everybody fights to defend their ideas (even though they don’t always understand them), two people really stand out: Evie and Stevie, an androgynous couple that might be lovers or twins.
At first Adele is intimidated by them but as she gets to know them better she becomes very intrigued by Evie. But not all is as it seems, people are different from what they appear and the ideas they believe in might not really relate to the real world. The world Adele and her friends have created breaks down at her birthday party.
The strength of the book lays in two things. Firstly, the self-reflection of Adele on the 60s. Were they really as important as people believed at the time and was everybody honest in their beliefs? Especially her portrait of the beginning of modern feminism is a joy to read. And secondly the characters have a complexity that keeps surprising you. Nobody is who they seem at first glance and quite a few characters go through several transformations. It shows their strengths and weaknesses in a way that is both tragically brutal and tender.
I guess the only real problem I had was the way that the 70s and 80s are rushed but that is a small problem compared to the rest of the novel and how it looks back on somebody’s youth in a non-nostalgic and unapologetically honest way.
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